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Arapiles iPhone App New Version 1.0.3 Now Released


What’s New in Version 1.0.3

This iCrag Arapiles App update is free to anyone who has already purchased the app. Additional features include…

Nine new wall topos, 20 new routes and 18 new lower-offs.
In response to user feedback, we have improved the Search functionality.
A number of minor glitches were removed.

Check out our original post and all of this apps features here.

Buy the iCrag Arapiles App from the Apple iTunes Store.



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Tracey & Cams Excellent Sustainable Living Adventure

The marketplace

One of the great things that I love about the Sustainable Living Festival, which is held each year in February, is its ability to embrace all levels of the Sustainability tree. As with anything that requires people to rethink and change their mindset and lifestyles – it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to be thrown into the environmental deep end of renewable energy, coal seam gas controversies and energy targets and converse in a knowledgable way. Sure ,there are all of these things happening over the weekend via stalls, wandering petition hawkers and talks going on in various locations, all on the bigger picture. There is so much information available that your head could just explode by the end of it all. What I find great, is that besides the big picture events, is the plethora of little things that absolutely anyone can do, and understand and for much of it, are simple little changes that can lead people along towards the bigger picture. For those just starting their conscious journey into environmental sustainability, the lightheartedness and sometimes frivolity of it all, is the instant feel good factor that leaves you walking away thinking – “yes, I can make a difference by making a few little changes at a time

After our ride from Balwyn to Fed Square with a flat tyre just on the outskirts ( I took the opportunity for myself to have a little nana rest), it was perfect timing to then land in front of the pedal powered keg on wheels that is the Good Brew Company and indulge in a Magic Tea. Divine! A yummy mix of green tea, yerba mate, honey, water and lots of bubbles. What a fantastic pick-me-up. Cam and I shared one with every intention of then having another at the other end of the marketplace at their stand. I think possibly I gulped faster than he did and got the lion’s share of the bevvy.

edible weeds

Keen to pick up some more tips on more effective gardening – having recently made over 30 jars of jam and chutney from our way out west Mitre property’s, peach and nectarine crop – I have acquired the bug, and the joy that comes from feeding yourself from your own garden. Whilst certainly not in full stage permaculture mindset as yet, I am taking baby steps and hung around the VEG display area picking up some handy hints and things I can realistically implement in my own garden at present. I do so want some chooks but these will have to wait a little longer. I shall have to continue to get my chook fix at my next door neighbours. A highlight of my green garden experience though, would definitely be the Edible Weeds presentation. I have done a little research previously on this subject – having a huge array of weeds, especially on the house up at Mitre. Stinging nettles are well known for their edible and medicinal properties – I could probably supply half the Wimmera with tea from the amount that pops up there in the Springtime but I wanted to know what else is about. Doris Pozzi from Hello Little Weed gave an informative and very entertaining talk on easy to find weeds and even had samples to taste afterwards. Ok, so on my list of to-do’s – Melokeya and Egyptian dish-using mallow leaves, Dandelion pesto and I need to hunt down some Purslane – seriously yummy to just munch on. It’s a weed – but one that I don’t seem to have on my place. Not only does it taste great it contains one of the highly sought after Omega 3 Fatty Acids. I hear there is a great recipe for Cucumber/Purslane yoghurt salad. Looks like I’ll be joining the foragers hunting down all the goodies that are out there. Can you believe it? Over 20,000 edible plant species out there and we use only 20% of these to make up 90% of what we eat.

This is all about getting our heads out of the sand when it comes to what we are told we can eat. I’m sure they don’t all taste brilliant but with that kind of quantity available to us, I’m sure you can find something you like. And it’s free. And abundant. Wait till I tell my boys about the weed salad we’re having tonight! Whilst on the subject of food – after we had filled our stomachs to the brim with potato rosti, chutney and beetroot relish, we handed our plates over to the team of volunteers of Wash Against Waste What a brilliant initiative.

Wandering through the bike and treadlie market put together by BikeFest was a great opportunity to see the huge range of all things wheeled out there and to see those that are totally emeshed in their wheeled way of life and how it works on so many levels. Why, you can even have a smoothie whilst pedalling through the BikenBlend crew. I really wanted one but that huge potato rosti wasn’t allowing any more room.

Time was getting on and with a long ride back to Balwyn. Cam and I started our way back up to where we had parked the bikes. Not a quick trip – along the way we stopped to talk to various stallholders, chats with the Quit Coal campaign collective about the planned Bacchus Marsh open cut coal mine, a few more signatures and then planted our bums at the Tasmanian Land Conservancy where we acquired a living room sized piece of paradise for $3.00. Getting donations is not an easy thing to do when there are so many worthy projects to donate to, but I thought the

TLC had come up with an interesting and interactive way of gathering donations to help pay back the no interest loans they received from philanthropist organizations to purchase Tasmanian land to be protected forever. I chose a sofa with a view on the edge of Lake Ina. Cam obviously liked a view and (being near me) as he chose an adjoining sofa and living room. Very clever and very fun, we had a nice chat with the two volunteers manning the stalls and thought it a perfect way to round off our Sustainable Living Adventure.

If you have never been to the festival, mark it down in your diary for next year. A great festival, a wealth of information and to be oh so cliché about it – you do come away with a warm and fuzzy feeling. About the world. And about the people in it who care. I have another job at The Environmental Jobs Network where I share space with the guys and gals from the Sustainable Living Foundation and the hard work and passion that I see throughout the year is evident in the resulting festival.Go on. Make the effort – you know you want to!












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Grampians Peaks Trail (Feb 2012 Update)

mt rosea
mt rosea
The lookout on top of Mt Rosea in the Grampians.

Just finished chatting with David Roberts, Ranger in Charge of the Grampians National Park. Regular readers may remember the piece we did here on the Grampians Peaks Trail in July 2010. The proposed walking trail was to link Mt Zero in the north to the town of Dunkeld in the south, covering a distance of approximately 150km. This was easily the most exciting new walking trail project to have been planned in Victoria since the completion of the Great Ocean Walk in 2005.   Unfortunately nature intervened with the January 2011 floods and many walkers feared that the initial $1.6 million in funding would be withdrawn or redirected elsewhere. Thankfully this was not to be the case. David said that the final alignment of the trail was happening right now and that he envisaged construction of the initial three-day walking loop (from Halls Gap, through the Wonderland Range, across Mt Rosea to Borough Huts Campground and back at Halls Gap) would begin within 3 months. Two hiker camps will be constructed along the way.

This really is great news for what will hopefully become one of Australia’s premier long distance walking trails. The Victorian Government have also approved another $1.4 million for the next stage of the trail through 2012 to 2014.

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Proposed Loddon River Walk

Loddon river Vaughan Springs
Loddon river
Loddon River and Vaughan Springs Spillway

We walked the Golden Gullies Walk from Vaughan Mineral Springs (near Castlemaine) on Sunday to recheck our original notes used in our popular Daywalks Around Melbourneguide. We also completed a GPS track of the walk, which we will add to our downloads page when the new The Goldfieldsguide is released this spring.

The Golden Gullies Walk is one of my personal favourites and I’ve done it at least half a dozen times. Unfortunately, the section linking Vaughan Mineral Springs with Central and Glenluce Springs is always under attack by weeds, the most invasive of which are thistles and blackberries (other major nasties include the willow, which is badly chocking up the river). Depending upon the season the water race which follows the river can be so overrun with blackberries that it isn’t actually possible to walk along it. It’s a real shame to see what should be one of the regions most beautiful and historic locations reduced to little more than a blackberry patch.

Loddon river Vaughan Springs
Water race and stone walling above the Loddon River.

So here’s my proposal.

A new walking trail to be constructed from Vaughan Mineral Springs along the south side of the river to opposite Glenluce Springs. A foot bridge could then be constructed across the Loddon River to provide access to Glenluce Springs. A walking trail would then run along the north side of the river past Central Springs to finish back at Vaughan Springs. The total distance of this proposed Loddon River Walk would be just 5km and would provide visitors to Vaughan Springs with potentially one of the most interesting and scenic walks in the entire Goldfields region. The walk would be graded easy andwould link three historically interesting mineral springs along the way. Much of the trail along the south side of the river is already in place with only minor relocations and repair work needed along the existing water race. On the north side of the river the trail between Central Springs and Vaughan Mineral Springs is also in place as it follows a 1km section of the Goldfields Track. The rest of the trail linking Glenluce Springs and Central Springs would need to be constructed along the river bank.

Lodden river chimney
Large chimney ruin on Sebastapol Creek.

To keep costs down the new bridge spanning the river could be built as a concrete causeway, similar to the one in Vaughan Springs. The bulk of the cost in constructing this walk would be in enacting a vigorous weed elimination schedule. Future maintenance of the trail could in a large part be handed over to the community (in cooperation with Parks Victoria).The advantages of such a trail are numerous. Currently Vaughan Mineral Springs is fairly run-down and is unfortunately looking sadder and sadder each year. The marketing of the Loddon River Walk could re-energise this once very popular destination with an increase in visitor numbers. Vaughan Mineral Springs could also become an important staging point for the adjoining Goldfields Track. Last and not least, the construction of a Loddon River Walk would be beneficial to the river and could become a showcase for its environmental health.

Loddon River tunnel
Old gold mine in Sailors Gully.


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Grampians Walks – So What’s Exactly Open and What’s Not

Keeping up with what’s open and what’s not in the Grampians is handy to know and save’s a long drive, not to mention a disappointment.  Below are some links that can help you plan your next trip to the Grampians this month.

Central Grampians walks

Northern Grampians walks

Southern Grampians walks

Wartook walks

And for an overall update on the recovery works and a colour coded map – great for the instant visual of what’s open, download it here: 2012-01-18-Recovery-Note-Grampians-National-Park

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Wildlife Friendly Fencing

Kangaroo hanging by its legs on a wire fence bordering the Brisbane Ranges National Park.

There are few sights more sickening than seeing a kangaroo or wallaby hanging from its hind legs in a wire fence. It’s a scene that I’ve witnessed too many times over the years. The poor animal has attempted to jump the fence and has caught its legs in-between the two top strands of wire and is left hanging, unable to free itself. It’s an ugly and very painful death, usually of shock, starvation or having been eaten alive by foxes or wild dogs. Deep scratches in the ground are the result of the roo clawing desperately with its front paws. On a couple of occasions I’ve even found the poor animal still alive, too close to death to be able to save them, but with a look of fear still in their eyes. Putting them out of their misery was an awful business.

Most of my readers, friends and family know how I feel about traditionally constructed wire fencing. I hate large open profile wiring (sometimes called deer and goat wiring). I also hate barbed wire (native North Americans used to call it ‘the devils rope’), which still accounts for many horrific injuries to our wildlife (kangaroos, possums, sugar gliders, flying foxes and many birds such as tawny frogmouths, kookaburras and owls). While some farmers and land managers use more wildlife friendly fence construction methods they’re unfortunately still in the minority.

Here are a few good links describing various wildlife friendly fencing projects. If you own a property with extensive fencing you should check them out. Wildlife friendly fencing will keep our native animals happy and will often be cheaper to construct and maintain.

Macedon Ranges Wildlife Network have a great page called Wildlife Friendly Fencing. This excellent site provides suggestions on ways you can protect wildlife from becoming entangled in your fencing.

Wildlife Friendly Fencing Project is based in Queensland and was kick-started via the Threatened Species Network of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The original project sought to develop educational resources, as well as achieve on-ground changes to traditional fences. It is an excellent resource for anyone considering the fencing of rural properties.

Wildlife Mountain also has a good page titled Barbed Wire Versus Native Animals.

Long Grass Nature Refuge describes the removal of barbed wire fencing on a 1200 acre property in SW Queensland.

Tolga Bat Hospital have a page describing barbed-wire injuries to bats and birds.